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Sea of devotees at Golden Temple kar seva
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 25
The first day of the kar seva of “Amrit sarovar of Harmandar Sahib here today witnessed unprecedented rush of devotees here.

Devotees from far-flung areas including abroad visited the Golden Temple to participate in the kar seva.

To a Sikh no place is holier than the Golden Temple and nobody wanted to miss the event. The rich and the poor were carrying silt on heads. Those who could not find iron bowls to carry the silt preferred to carry it in hands. The devotees started coming to the city since yesterday by various modes of transport. Villagers used tractor-trailers. Many devotees were seen on the roofs of buildings. Those who could not enter the temple due to rush, watched desilting of the tank on television which was giving live coverage of the event, first time in the Sikh history.

Mr Sital Singh Nanuan, Canada-based Sikh, conceived supplying filtered water to the tank of the Golden Temple on March 18, 1973. Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SGPC chief had also sought details from him. Later, Baba Jagtar Singh of ‘Tarn Taran’ stepped in for the ‘kar seva’ and sought the help of ‘Tut ‘brothers’, Punjab farmers and transporters of the USA who spent Rs 5 crore on the project.

The “seva” was started by five Sikh saints — Baba Jagtar Singh Tarn Taran, Baba Harbans Singh Delhi, Baba Labh Singh Anandpur Sahib, Baba Seva Singh Khadur Sahib and Bhai Mohinder Singh of the Nishkam Sevak Jatha Birmingham (UK) with five spades and bowls made of gold and silver respectively, in accordance with Sikh traditions.

While Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, and a large number of Shiromani Akali Dal leaders and SGPC members were present on the occasion, no senior BJP leader participated in the ‘kar seva’ today. Despite announcement, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, failed to turn up for the ‘seva’.

The construction of the Golden Temple tank undertaken under the supervision of Guru Ram Das, assisted by Baba Budha Ji started on November 6, 1573 and the diggin was completed by 1577 AD. While the tank was under Construction, Guru Arjun Dev — the fifth Sikh Guru then thought of building a temple in the midst of the tank (giving lotus-like shape). After the inception of the SGPC the first kar seva to clean the sarovar was undertaken on June, 17,1923. The seva was started by Sant Baba Sham Singh of Atta Mandi Amritsar, Sant Gulab Singh Gholia (Moga), Bhai Fateh Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, Baba Kharak Singh then SGPC President and Mr Teja Singh Samundari.

Second kar seva was launched on March 31, 1973 by five Sikh Saints — Baba Jiwan Singh of kar seva, Baba Kharak Singh, Baba Seva Singh Anandpur Sahib, Sant Mohinder Singh Harkhowal and Baba Harbans Singh.

During Army operation in the Golden Temple Complex in June, 1984 the sarovar got desecrated with the dumping of arms and ammunition and bodies of the visiting pilgrims. The temple complex was handed over to the Sikh Clergy on September 29. The kar seva of the sarovar was undertaken on October 12, 1984, the birth anniversary of Sri Guru Ram Das by five Sikh saints including Baba Harbans Singh Delhi. Sant Baba Kartar Singh Patna Sahib, Baba Daya Singh of Sursingh Wala, Baba Darshan Singh and Baba Diwan Singh of Chhabriwala.After Operation Black Thunder a kar seva was also conducted on May 19, 1988.

Earlier an aircraft of the Amritsar Aviation Club showered rose petals on the devotees participating in the kar seva and fireworks marked the ceremony. Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, honoured the ‘panj pyaras’ (five beloved ones) before launching of the kar seva.


Sarovar to have ornamental fish
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, March 25
Sight of clear water and colourful ornamental fish could be an attraction at the Golden Temple after ‘kar seva’ of sarovar concludes here.

Antics of aquatic life may enhance beauty of the sarovar of the shrine.

SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta said they were thinking of procuring ornamental fish for the tank.

While, the Department of Fisheries has suggested to the SGPC that presence of fish could affect clarity of the tank water. Others suggested that a few fish could be left in the sarovar as some pollution was going to be there from bathing of devotees in sarovar water.

At present four species of fish — common carp, rohu, Mrigal and Katla — are replenished time to time by the Fisheries Department, Punjab, says Assistant Director Fisheries Surjit Singh.

These non-carnivorous species that feed on microscopic organisms in watered as natural purifiers of sarovar water. About 20-25 quintals of fish were there in the sarovar. It was segregated to one-fourth portion of the sarovar to start kar seva in the rest of the area today.

Mr Surjit Singh says that ornamental fish was more expensive than common varieties here. These varieties cost Rs 100 for every 1000 fingerlings. One ornamental pair may cost anywhere from Rs 100 to Rs 500.

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